Red letter day for health practitioners

Health Minister Dr David Clark welcomes the enactment of new legislation today, which will improve people’s access to some health services across New Zealand.

"Before today, certain functions could only be carried out by doctors. Changes coming into force today are a red letter day for New Zealanders and health professionals," Dr Clark says. 

"These changes will allow other suitably qualified health professionals, such as nurse practitioners, to issue sick leave certificates, certify death in some circumstances and prescribe more medications.

"By changing the words “medical practitioner” to “health practitioner” in some Acts, people will have improved access to various health services, which is particularly significant for those in smaller, rural communities."

The original intent of the law was to protect public safety by ensuring only doctors with the required knowledge and skills could carry out these tasks.

"As time has moved on, so too has training and technology, and the health workforce has adapted accordingly. This is another example of that continued evolution.

"This is a chance to better use our highly-qualified health workforce, which means health professionals are able to work smarter and use all their training and expertise to improve people’s health."

The Health Practitioners (Replacement of Statutory References to Medical Practitioners) Act affects the following seven amendment Acts today:

·        Accident Compensation Amendment Act 2016
·        Burial and Cremation Amendment Act 2016
·        Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Amendment Act (No 2) 2016
·        Holidays Amendment Act 2016
·        Medicines Amendment Act 2016
·        Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Act 2016
·        Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2016

An amendment to the Land Transport Amendment Act 2016 comes into effect on 8 November 2018.